A Tory MP was lambasted by the SNP today after they accused him of saying benefits claimants were “terrified they might get a job”.
The SNP claimed David Nuttall said fear of work was a “major cause of stress” for those on benefits, and shouting the comment during a speech in the chamber by their MP Mhairi Black.
Black said the remarks made Nuttall “not fit for Government”, while the SNP’s Peter Grant said the Tory MP was in “no position to judge” those on benefits.
“If someone thinks it is acceptable to speak about the most vulnerable people it’s their job as a Government to look after, I suggest they are not fit for Government”, Black said.
Peter Grant said: “Does my honourable friend believe that anyone with that kind of attitude is in any position to judge those who are actively trying to find employment?”
The SNP were out in force on Twitter to berate the MP, and called the remarks “disgusting” and “shameful”.
The exchange followed a scathing attack on current benefits sanctions by Black, where she accused the Government of making its citizens homeless.
“Citizens should not be made homeless by their government, they should not be made destitute by their government, they should not be left with absolutely nothing in their pockets..”, she said.
This comes after a damning report of the Government’s welfare crackdown which found that benefits sanctions cost more to administer than they save.
The National Audit Office, an independent watchdog, said that fining claimants for failing to meet certain conditions caused them greater hardship, and cost the Government almost twice what it gained.
The analysis found the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) spent £30-50 million a year applying sanctions, and around £200 million monitoring the terms it set for job seekers.
But in 2015, it said, the measures saved just £132 million.
When contacted for comment Nuttall said:
“To be honest as always when there is heated debate I can not recall precise terms but I was asking what it was they were terrified of.
“Perhaps the promoter [of the bill] can clarify why she said people are terrified of going to the JobCentre. I would have thought people would welcome the prospect of being able to try and find a job.
“As I pointed out employment is at record levels and there are hundreds of thousands of vacancies.
“The proposer of the Bill said people were terrified of going to the JobCentre. My comment from Hansard is below:
“The point is that the best way to help people is for them to find work. The fact of the matter is that there are more people in work in this country than ever before, so people have no reason to be terrified about going into a JobCentre. They ought to be looking forward to it, because the likelihood is that, under this Government, they will find a job”